Senate left in limbo by Trump tweets, House delays

Senate left in limbo by Trump tweets, House delays
© UPI Photo

Senate immigration talks are in limbo after President TrumpDonald TrumpSenators given no timeline on removal of National Guard, Capitol fence Democratic fury with GOP explodes in House Georgia secretary of state withholds support for 'reactionary' GOP voting bills MORE tweeted Friday that Republicans should stop wasting their time negotiating with Democrats and wait until after the election to take action.

Trump predicts Republicans will be in a stronger negotiating position after what he says will be a “red wave” in November — a different forecast than the one made by many other handicappers, who see promising signs in the midterms for Democrats. 


Republicans are deeply divided over immigration, a fact underscored by the House GOP’s decision to postpone a vote on immigration legislation until next week.

In the House, Republicans are divided over how tough to make the enforcement provisions and there’s little appetite among Democrats to help advance Trump’s get-tough approach to illegal immigration.

In the Senate, it’s not even clear there will be a vote.

Senators in both parties have been holding talks on a variety of measures that might ease concerns at the border, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellKlain on Manchin's objection to Neera Tanden: He 'doesn't answer to us at the White House' Democratic fury with GOP explodes in House Murkowski undecided on Tanden as nomination in limbo MORE (R-Ky.) earlier this year signaled his intention to move on from the divisive issue after a week of floor time had been devoted to immigration. 

Trump’s executive order ending the separation of children from their parents at the border eased pressure on Congress to find a solution, and some senators toward the end of the week were guessing media attention might move to some new controversy next week.

One Republican close to the immigration talks in the Senate predicted the chance of a bill passing before the election is “extremely unlikely” because “the pressure is off” after Trump’s order.

There’s sense among lawmakers that leadership is ready to move away from the issue if the crisis dies down.

“It’s just like what happened after the courts ruled DACA, when the negotiations then stopped,” said the GOP senator, referring to court decisions that allowed immigrants to continue to apply for work permit renewals under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which covered immigrants who came to the nation illegally as children.

Senate Republican Whip John CornynJohn CornynPassage of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act is the first step to heal our democracy Biden signs supply chain order after 'positive' meeting with lawmakers Democrats look to improve outreach to Asian and Latino communities MORE (Texas), who is working closely on the issue, acknowledged that there’s a lot of skepticism about Congress’s ability to pass immigration legislation. 

“Immigration is one of those topics where our track record has not been good,” he said.

Cornyn argued that Trump’s executive order doesn’t let Congress off the hook.

Trump’s executive order is likely to face legal challenges, for one thing.

A legal settlement limits the detention of children to 20 days, suggesting they would have to be separated from their parents at that time unless the guardians are also freed.

The White House has said it wants Congress to pass legislation on the issue, though Trump’s signals on recent days have repeatedly been in conflict.

The problem, seemingly as always on immigration, is that Democrats and Republicans differ on how to solve even narrow problems related to the issue.

Cornyn, for example, criticized a proposal sponsored by Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinProgressive support builds for expanding lower courts Menendez reintroduces corporate diversity bill What exactly are uber-woke educators teaching our kids? MORE (D-Calif.) and supported by the entire Senate Democratic Conference to end the separation of children from their parents as inadequate.

“Her bill does nothing about enforcing the law. Instead it will reinstate this policy of catch and release, which essentially is a magnet for illegal immigration,” he said.

The Feinstein bill, he argued, would lead the administration to release adults detained for illegally crossing the border with children, under the hope they would return for court dates.

Republican and Democratic negotiators say that putting ankle monitors on illegal border crossers could be one way around this, but they are far from reaching a deal on the issue. 

Sen. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezSenate confirms Thomas-Greenfield as UN ambassador The Memo: Biden bets big on immigration Biden pushes expanded pathways to citizenship as immigration bill lands in Congress MORE (N.J.), an influential Democrat in the immigration debate, floated the idea Wednesday and some Republicans say they will consider it.

“I’ve told everyone I’m open to it,” Sen. Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisMcConnell backs Garland for attorney general GOP senators demand probe into Cuomo's handling of nursing home deaths CNN anchor confronts GOP chairman over senator's vote to convict Trump MORE (R-N.C.) told The Hill.

Cornyn said, “That’s something we can certainly discuss.”  

Roy Beck, executive director of NumbersUSA, a group that wants to reduce immigration, said Trump’s tweet "certainly could" dampen immigration talks.

But, he added, “I don’t think the president’s executive order is going to be the last word on this.”

One Senate Republican strategist predicted that lawmakers would continue to work on legislation, but probably with less urgency.

“No question it relieves pressure that Republicans may be feeling to get something done before the election, but I also don’t think it means Republicans will stop working on it,” said the source. 

Senate negotiators still plan to meet this week in hopes of finding common ground.

Tillis and Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzKlain on Manchin's objection to Neera Tanden: He 'doesn't answer to us at the White House' Senators given no timeline on removal of National Guard, Capitol fence Shelby endorses Shalanda Young for OMB director should Biden pull Tanden's nomination MORE (R-Texas), two members of the Judiciary Committee, plan to meet with Feinstein and Sen. Dick DurbinDick DurbinMurkowski undecided on Tanden as nomination in limbo Democrats ask FBI for plans to address domestic extremism following Capitol attack Progressive support builds for expanding lower courts MORE (Ill.), the Democratic whip, this coming week to weigh various proposals.

Tillis’s office says he will go forward despite Trump’s view that legislative negotiations are a waste of time.

“Senator Tillis believes Congress must tackle our nation’s broken immigration system and produce the solutions that have eluded Washington for decades,” his office said in a statement Friday.